One of the internet’s most prolific worldwide spam networks has been shut down by a US court.
The group, which used names like Herbal Kings and Click Fusion, sent billions of unsolicited messages to internet users, touting luxury goods, counterfeit
pharmaceuticals and pornography.
Its primary products were pills claimed to have the power to enhance the male anatomy.
Steve Baker of the US Federal Trade Commission said: “We believe they are responsible for billions of illegal emails. The FTC alone has received over three million complaints of spam from this operation and we believe they have sold millions of dollars of products to the American public and around the world.”
The FTC has brought more than 100 cases against spammers and spyware vendors in the past decade.
But this was by far the biggest, with ties to Australia, New Zealand, India, China and the United States.
Steve Wernikoff of the International Trade Commission said: “The operation lasted well over a year, about a year and a half. The investigation, as Steve Baker mentioned, involved purchasing a number of products and following the money.”
An indicator of the group’s finances was its credit card charges, clearing 293,000 euros in one month alone.
To sell its bogus wares the group used a botnet, a global network of computers that it had infected with malicious software.
At one stage the botnet was estimated to be the leading source of spam on the internet.